U.S. Senators Urged To Protect U.S. Renewable Competitiveness

By Published On: July 17, 2009

The Waxman-Markey legislation and its federal carbon cap-and-trade proposal were promoted as critical measures to help the U.S. regain its prominence in the renewable energy sector. The focus of a July 16 Senate Environment & Public Works Committee hearing was specifically how to protect and advance competitiveness and rebuild the nation’s job market via a booming “clean energy” industry. “American entrepreneurs will create jobs–including jobs building wind turbines that we can export to the world, jobs installing solar panels on homes and businesses, and jobs producing energy efficient products and a new fleet of electric and hybrid vehicles,” said U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), committee chair. She and other lawmakers stressed the need to protect the country’s energy intensive industry as lawmakers shape a carbon trading scheme. “At the end of the day, our competitiveness in the world economy will depend on how we face the challenge of global warming,” Boxer added. Democratic and Republican lawmakers reiterated their well-established positions on legislation seeking to build a national greenhouse emission trading market, with the former in support and the latter insisting it will cause energy prices to rise and the job market to shrink further. “Why not just tax carbon dioxide and not hide anything,” said Senator James Inhofe (R-OK). Three of the four witnesses urged lawmakers July 16 to support the development of a carbon trading system. “Our government’s current energy and climate policies stifle innovation and competitiveness,” said John Doerr, partner with the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caulfield based in Silicon Valley. He noted Americans spend $1 trillion annually for traditional and alternative energy. “We won the race to the moon but we’re losing the race to a sustainable Earth,” warned Julian Wong with the American Progress Action Fund. He and Doerr also warned lawmakers against making China a scapegoat for moving to first place on the renewable and energy efficiency technology front. China spent 10 times more in terms of gross domestic product than the United States, avoiding 350 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions, Doerr noted. In other news, both Boxer and Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) noted recently that the nation’s capitol is focusing on legislation for health care, and that energy legislation is expected to be taken up again in September.

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